Home > Uncategorized > Board of Studies NSW and their Syllabi Copyright License

Board of Studies NSW and their Syllabi Copyright License

December 24, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

In the past month or two I’ve been watching and listening some of Lawrence Lessig’s presentations and I’ve got his books on my reading list. I could do a lot of blogging on those topics but I wanted to focus on one particular thing. As I was reading Code v2 it lead me to think about a copyright issue that is close to me. It deals with the fact that the Board of Studies NSW, a government organisation copyrights (with a very restrictive license) its syllabi. These syllabi document what students should learn as part of their secondary state education HSC courses. These syllabi are material that students use as part of their study.

For the purposes of review here is the license that the syllabi are provided under,

“© 2002 Copyright Board of Studies NSW for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

This document contains Material prepared by the Board of Studies NSW for and on behalf of the State of New South Wales. The Material is protected by Crown copyright.

All rights reserved. No part of the Material may be reproduced in Australia or in any other country by any process, electronic or otherwise, in any material form or transmitted to any other person or stored electronically in any form without the prior written permission of the Board of Studies NSW, except as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968. School students in NSW and teachers in schools in NSW may copy reasonable portions of the Material for the purposes of bona fide research or study. Teachers in schools in NSW may make multiple copies, where appropriate, of sections of the HSC papers for classroom use under the provisions of the school’s Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licence.

When you access the Material you agree:

  • to use the Material for information purposes only
  • to reproduce a single copy for personal bona fide study use only and not to reproduce any major extract or the entire Material without the prior permission of the Board of Studies NSW
  • to acknowledge that the Material is provided by the Board of Studies NSW
  • not to make any charge for providing the Material or any part of the Material to another person or in any way make commercial use of the Material without the prior written consent of the Board of Studies NSW and payment of the appropriate copyright fee
  • to include this copyright notice in any copy made
  • not to modify the Material or any part of the Material without the express prior written permission of the Board of Studies NSW.”

Board of Studies NSW

In my opinion this is absurd! This is depriving students access of material that they require for their studies. This is not a private education institution, this is a government public education system. Students need to know what to study, this document tells students what to study, and as this document is not distributed to students (as in students are not provided a hard copy) the only way they can access it is to copy it, but apparently this is illegal!

The above license does give some rights to school students in NSW (“School students in NSW and teachers in schools in NSW may copy reasonable portions of the Material for the purposes of bona fide research or study.”), but why only school students in NSW, what about publishers who are providing material to help students in their studies (for example an annotated copy)? Also why limit the amount students can copy to “reasonable portions”? So basically students cannot make whole copies of this document to aid in their studies!

Also why can’t anyone remix the document adding their own annotations or commentary and then publish this? And why only for “personal” use? What if I want to provide a remixed copy to anyone who wants it? If the Board is worried that someone may change the document then republish it and someone mistakes this as an official version, then they should not worry. People are not stupid they know that if they want to ensure the reliability of the document they will go to the source. This is not a valid reason for refusing copying of the document.

These documents should be licensed more freely. They should be in-near public domain allowing anyone to do whatever they want with it. I say “near public domain” because I can understand the Board wanting attribution. But apart from that I don’t see any other legal constraint that needs to be placed on these documents. Board of Studies, please consider a license such as the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.

I welcome comments on this matter.

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